Overcoming Challenges in an Untraditional Space
By Jeff Luer, Sr. Producer / 07.18.2016
Traditional ballrooms and convention centers are blank canvases, controlled environments designed specifically for events and experiences, making production more intuitive. However, sometimes we are asked to produce an experience in unique, untraditional venues that were designed for a different purpose, which creates a whole new set of challenges.
For the last three years, we have had the honor of producing Cardinal Glennon’s annual Homers for Health Game Shows fundraiser. It’s a fun night filled with games and giving, but it takes an enormous amount of experience, creative problem solving and technical expertise to execute on a major league level.
Challenge 1: Producing in an untraditional venue
Solution: We drew on our experience to construct a creative spatial design and brought in our own equipment to transform a public space into an engaging, private spectacle.
Ballpark Village is a public venue with ten bars and restaurants located adjacent to Busch Stadium. We had to rearrange and design the space (staging, seating, scenic), even bringing in some of our own equipment, vendors and tech enhancements to truly transform the space into a game show environment. Audience engagement is also a key component and challenge, so we strategically placed large monitors around the venue so audience members could view the live action from anywhere. Even though it’s a tough setup and creative experiment, hosting the event at Ballpark Village really elevates the experience.
Challenge 2: Condensing a standard 20-hour load-in to 6 hours
Solution: There’s no secret to this, just careful preparation, an experienced show crew and hauling ass to produce at a high level.
Ballpark Village remains open for business 7 days a week, which means load-in, setup, and tear down occurs the same day. For an event this size and scope (about 1,500+ attendees), we typically need about a day and a half for load-in, setup and rehearsals. We have a large show crew with vast experience and months of planning on our side before we get on show site, so when we arrive at 5 am, everyone knows what to do and we are moving before doors open at 5 pm.
Challenge 3: Producing for two very different audiences
Solution: When producing an experience for both a live and television audience, a comprehensive Run of Show (ROS) makes all the difference.
Fox Sports Midwest uses footage we capture during the event to air on regular programming over the course of the year. When producing for a live and television audience, the ROS is meticulously constructed. Camera positions, audio cues, graphic sequences, sponsor logos, celebrity appearances etc., are all called out on a detailed document. From the crew pit, Jeremy Guyott, one of our technical directors, and myself are calling the show, making sure that cues for the live experience and recorded program are hit according to the ROS.
On the technical side, the experience needs to look and feel the same for both audiences. Dave Boser and Travis Langley, our senior lighting and audio guys, made sure the lighting and audio were rigged with sensibilities for both live and television format. We are lucky to have experienced technical directors and producers who leverage a wealth of knowledge to prepare for and execute this kind of event.